The Returned recap: Claire
Five years ago, Claire and Peter were kicking off their relationship—or, to be more, accurate, their affair: At that time, Claire was still married to Jack and Camille was still alive.
Their affair seems like pure bliss. They frolic in the water wearing only their underwear, then roll around on some blankets next to an elaborate picnic. Claire talks about how her dreams of being a photographer went away once she had two daughters; Peter tells her it’s not too late to change directions.
Claire goes home later that night to Jack, Lena, and Camille watching Twilight on the couch. She snuggles into Jack’s nook, and they look happy. But Jack has no idea what she was just doing—and he won’t know until five years later.
The last time we saw Lena, she was running away from Tony and Adam and hitching a ride with a truck driver. Luckily, that truck driver didn’t do anything creepy to her, and she got home safely—also luckily, she and Camille are done being mad at each other.
“Where were you?” Camille immediately asks, and Lena replies with a simple apology. Lena realized she’s happy to have Camille back, and she’s over being bitter about it—now she’s ready to appreciate that her once-dead sister is back in her arms. They spend most of the episode hanging out together and doing some sisterly bonding, which is sweet but also… boring.
In less boring news, Lena doesn’t remember how she got to Tony and Adam’s cabin. She blames it on the pain meds she was on, but my initial reaction was that she died on the way to Tony and Adam’s cabin, and she returned once she got there. It would make sense: We did see Adam hovering over her in the woods after she tripped, and the next time we saw her, she was in his bed. It’s possible Adam did what he usually does—stabbed her, ate her guts, etc.—only for her to miraculously come back. It’s also possible this is just a red herring and Lena really was too hopped up on pain meds to know what was going on.
Either way, Lena does remember finding Lucy’s necklace and Tony subsequently locking her up in the shed. Jack reacts as most overprotective dads would: by going to Tony and beating the shit out of him. Peter watches as this happens for a few moments, then hits Jack over the head with a branch to make it stop. “I’m not going to let you kill him,” Peter, ever the peacemaker, says.
Meanwhile, Camille’s picking fruit for Oliver’s parents. These were two of the people Camille talked to in the previous episode—and by talk to, I mean she lied to them about seeing their son on the other side. She asks Claire to take her over to their house so she can give them the fruit, but no one answers the door. Claire notices their cars are there, so they go inside anyway—and discover Paul and Rachel hanging, dead.
Camille’s ridden with guilt, because she’s the one who told them their son was waiting for them. Jack and Claire get pissed at Peter, because he’s the one who encouraged Camille to help the parents through their grief—even if it meant lying to them—and now Camille’s the one who has to suffer for it.
They have a point: Yes, it’s unproductive to try to explain someone’s suicide, and in any other situation, it’d be disrespectful to simplify their lives and say, “Yes, this one thing caused them to kill themselves.” But we’re talking about a TV show here, and it’s pretty clear they only did it because someone from that other realm said their son was waiting for them. Camille was trying to be helpful, and now she has to live with the feeling that her words caused two people to die.
Jack, already in a bad mood, confronts Peter about it. But Peter’s done being a diplomat: He tells Jack he and Claire were sleeping together a year before Camille died. “Claire didn’t fall into my bed out of grief,” he says. “She ran into it out of boredom.” Ouch.
Last week, Tommy shot Simon dead because he didn’t listen when Tommy said to back away from Rowan. The police come over to get the details, and Rowan lies by claiming Simon had a knife to her throat. She doesn’t look entirely comfortable with this line, and looks to Tommy for approval—something that will probably come back to bite her.
The next day, Tommy comes home to check on her, and the scene is eerily similar to the time he found her near-dead on the bed: She doesn’t respond to his yells, then he finds her lying on her back on the bed. Thankfully, the scene is just a tease though and she’s fine. Actually, better than fine—she’s listening to Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” on her iPod, and they begin reminiscing about their first date.
NEXT: Simon makes a comeback.
Tommy’s still a little sketchy, but it is sweet watching them recount how that first “date” went down: “Wild World” was playing on the radio as they drove in the car, and then Rowan’s water broke. Rowan’s self-deprecating about it all, but Tommy says it was the best date ever. I have a hard time believing Tommy—have you ever watched a child birth video (or, you know, experienced child birth)?—but, hey. To each his own.
They establish that “Wild World” will be the first song at their wedding, and everything seems to be getting better. But then Chloe gets home and asks where the angel went. Rowan very calmly explains that he went back to heaven, but Chloe’s not having it. She throws a tantrum about how she wants her real daddy back, and Rowan’s left trying to comfort her daughter.
Rowan got something wrong though: Simon’s not back in heaven. He’s actually breaking out of the cold chamber. Chloe might be getting her wish, after all.
The police head over to Tony’s once Peter and co. report what Lena found in his cabin, and he confesses to being the serial killer and stomach-eater once at the station. Tommy doesn’t seem to believe him because Tony’s denied it so many times before, but Tony promised to Adam he’d make it right and so he’s making it right—or trying to.
Tony was misguided about the whole locking-Lena-up-thing, but man, he is an amazing brother. I’m going to go on record right now and say that if my brother was accused of eating women’s stomachs, I would not take the fall for him. Love you, bro, but hell no.
Just because he’s doing it though doesn’t mean it’s easy for him. It’s not. Actually, it’s driving him a bit crazy: He starts hallucinating his dead mother, who tells him, “You can’t keep a secret like this. You’re too stupid.” This gets to him so much that he starts beating his head against the metal table in a super gross moment (you can weirdly always count on The Returned for hyper-realistic violence).
The police eventually hear the banging, and try to restrain him—but one of the officers forgot to disarm himself, so Tony grabs the gun and shoots himself. Adam’s in the lobby of the police department and hears the gun go off. He knows his brother is dead.
Same old, same old with Victor. He’s still acting strange, and Nikki’s still suspicious of him—especially now that she’s sleeping with Julie again and is exposed to his 24/7 weirdness.
She does a little digging, and finds out that he was killed three decades ago. Julie doesn’t want to know about it, though, and doesn’t seem to really care anyway: She believes they are both on earth to help each other.
Julie’s not the first who thought this, though. Nikki reveals that four years ago, another woman around Julie’s age filled a missing persons report about a little boy. Like Victor, he didn’t speak. Like Victor, no one was looking for this kid. But while Julie’s committed to taking care of Victor, this woman—Lauren, a teacher—was suspicious and ended up dropping him off on the side of the road. Three days later, Lauren was on the same bus as Camille and died when the bus swerved off the road. They thought it was an animal on the road, but, nope: It was Victor (or Zach, as Lauren called him).
This makes Victor out to be a bit sinister—what, does he just serially latch onto women? What’s his end-game? His reputation isn’t helped when, later, Julie goes to the police station to identify her attacker. She leaves Victor with the police department secretary (or whoever that woman with the cookies is) and comes back later to find him gone. He’s gone because he’s watching Tony bang his head into the table. This kid is so weird—and I’m starting to agree with Nikki, who told Julie, “Him being back, it’s not right.”
No Helen this week, which I’m actually thankful for—her shtick quickly gets old. What I’m less thankful for is Tony’s death. He genuinely wanted to help Adam, it seems, and now Adam has no one to go to. The episode ends with him running down the street at night—running where, I don’t know. Hopefully to someone who can help him, because he’s currently one of the more intriguing characters on a show full of not-so-interesting ones.
The problem with Tony’s death though is I don’t feel sad about it. There are plenty of characters on The Returned, but I have trouble connecting to them. That’s a common problem with ensemble casts, but this is a show that needs to connect with its viewers to succeed—and that’s part of the magic of Les Revenants: I don’t even understand what they’re saying on that series (thank God for subtitles), but my heart aches for them. My heart doesn’t usually ache for these American characters—and I want it to ache. I want to feel their grief and their confusion, but instead I end each episode wondering, “What’s next?” without any emotion attached to it.
That suspense is valuable in itself, and the show excels at it. Last week’s episode ended with Simon presumably dead, and this one ended with Simon proving he’s not. It’s those moments that make me excited to see what’s going to happen—if only those moments could pack a little bit more of an emotional punch. If I’m going to watch a show about grief, I want to cry. Suspense can come second.
The Returned (A+E)